While cable operators around the world are facing an unprecedented array of challenges — from changing consumer behaviors to disruptive competition from over-the-top providers — new opportunities are also being created by the introduction of new innovations based on a more open approach to core network infrastructures and connected home architectures.
To get a better insight into how these emerging trends are translating into strategies for retaining subscribers and generating new revenue streams we caught up with Marcin Godlewski, director of product management at Technicolor Connected Home. Here is what he had to say:
Q: Thanks Marcin for taking the time to chat. Can we start by getting your take on how you have seen the cable market, and more specifically the DOCSIS3.1 segment evolve in the past year or so?
Godlewski: It really has been an exciting time for cable operators that have rolled out DOCSIS 3.1. The technology has come just in time, driven by a general need for speed and specifically by the imperative to keep up with developments in the fiber optic sector, where telco NSPs are setting consumer expectations for the delivery of multi-gigabit performance.
DOCSIS 3.1 has allowed cable operators to optimize utilization of spectrum — by taking advantage of technology that operates at 1 Ghz or above. This is making the coaxial cables more efficient, further enhancing the ability to deliver high-bandwidth services to the home over the existing infrastructure.
Interestingly, DOCSIS 3.1 is the first broadband technology that truly enables the growing adoption across the industry of open software solutions — which in the cable industry revolves around RDK-B.
I should take this opportunity to point out that Technicolor is actually one of the founding fathers of RDK-B. Our teams have donated a tremendous amount of intellectual property to this open initiative. And the good news is that over 90 percent of deployed DOCSIS 3.1 gateways today use RDK-B software. This is helping address a lot of integration and interoperability issues.
Finally, we are seeing a new generation of Systems-on-a-Chip (SoC) products that have significantly elevated the memory and processing performance delivered by customer premises equipment (CPE) — especially gateways.
Not only do these SoC innovations make CPE faster, they also allow operators to drive down costs, even as they make it possible to offer services that reduce customer churn and generate new revenue streams.
Cable operators now have networks that are faster, more open, more intelligent, innovative and integrated than ever before. This is creating opportunities for the development of new subscriber engagement strategies for cable operators.
Q: How specifically do you see this translating into opportunities for innovation to deliver new levels of value to subscribers?
Godlewski: The rise of these faster, intelligent and more open networks is exactly what the increasingly complex and dynamic connected home environments need.
As video services move to higher-resolution technologies and popular gaming consoles/apps trigger demand for higher levels of interactivity within the home — and between the home and cloud resources — smart ultra-broadband technology is going to be critical.
This is on top of the growing use of personal devices that need constant access to network resources and other Internet-of-Things devices entering the home — from smart speakers to thermometers, security appliances, and much more.
But, again, broadband access is not enough. NSPs need to have agility and intelligence embedded in the core and home networks to help consumers manage the complexity of their home environment .
Moreover, these dynamic developments create an opportunity to harvest latent consumer demand to have an entity — such as cable operators — manage risk and security in this hyperconnected environment.
Today, NSPs can deliver on this expectation because of the combination of more powerful DOCSIS 3.1 access and more open gateways that are built on SOC platforms that have higher memory and processing capabilities.
New applications can be developed more quickly to harness innovations that are emerging from different parts of the technology community. They can also be installed and managed more securely — as they run in containers. And so more importantly, NSPs can respond to customer demands in a more agile and cost-effective manner, because they are not locked into the rigid hardware that used to limit the ability to make adjustments in response to new subscriber requirements.
Indeed, many NSPs are now either creating — or participating — in “app-store-like” resources that can be mixed, matched and integrated into their installed base of next generation CPE.
Q: What are the different strategies being deployed by NSPs around the world to ensure they can generate additional revenue and retain subscribers?
Godlewski: As the implications of these trends begin to be understood by NSPs around the world, executives are refocusing on intelligent CPE as the central element of subscriber engagement. They are developing an application-based service delivery model.
In terms of the levels of maturity around the world, those markets that have already adopted DOCSIS 3.1 are rapidly developing and deploying these new go-to-market models. Other NSPs have observed the progress of early DOCSIS 3.1 adopters, and are positioning themselves to be fast followers.
The good news today is that the next wave of DOCSIS 3.1 adopters will be able to leverage the foundational work that has been performed at both a technological and business model level to rapidly transform their operations.
The open nature of this next wave of technologies makes it possible to “lift and shift” technologies that have been proven in North American and Europe to emerging markets in a very rapid and cost-effective manner.
Q: How is Technicolor helping cable operators take advantage of these new opportunities in the market?
Godlewski: Just because new solutions can be deployed in a more rapid and cost-effective manner does not mean that the adoption and implementation of these technologies is easy.
There is plenty of complexity that requires collaboration among NSPs, hardware makers, software developers and SoC providers.
Technicolor has a long tradition as an integrator of innovation and established technologies. We have been at the center of the convergence of all these critical trends and are supporting the industry in two ways:
1. We are building a community of innovators through the Technicolor HERO Partnership program which allows us to pre-integrate the most compelling technologies into our CPE platforms; and
2. We are establishing “trusted advisor” relationships with our NSP clients, in which we not only provide the technologies they need, but leverage the depth and breadth of our global presence to help our clients make the best strategic, operational, financial and technological decisions.